What exactly are we celebrating when we celebrate Christmas? Our Saviour, or ourselves? From one perspective we definitely have something to celebrate! For certainly, without His birth, death and resurrection we would not have the blessed opportunity to receive so great a salvation. We join with the angels who beckoned the shepherds to come and see the newborn king. We are struck with awe like the wise men who traveled great distances to marvel at the miracle of the virgin birth and, like them, we want to give gifts also. And, because we are told by our Saviour to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, we are especially kind and thoughtful to one another during this festive season.
On the other hand, the birth of Jesus was the beginning of His time of humiliation as He willingly left the realms of glory to take upon Himself the human form, subject Himself to man’s pitiful justice system to be scorned, ridiculed and eventually brutally murdered at the hands of godless men. All done, in the name of God, by His own people. And we celebrate?
Is it really in the heart of our Father that we celebrate the birth of Jesus - the man? Or would He have us let go of the natural Jesus to embrace the risen Christ? And, to not just glory in His resurrection, but press into our own resurrection. "…that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death; if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead." (Php 3:10,11 ASV)
Celebrating His resurrection and entering into the reality of it are two very separate things! Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves. (John 6:53 ASV) For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God. (1Co 1:18 ASV) Many are they that glory in HIS birth, in HIS cross and in HIS resurrection, but only those whom He has chosen to place His Holy Spirit within shall ever experience this resurrection life first hand. "He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life." (1 John 5:12 ASV)
The fact is Christmas and Easter really have their origins in man-made, worldly celebrations that so many Christians and the church in general have made into sacred festivals. They have been used over the centuries to push religion on the world by setting up nativity scenes in our front yards and crosses on church lots. In fact Webster’s Encyclopedia says that, "Many of its (Christmas) customs have a non-Christian origin and were adapted from celebrations of the winter solstice. The choice of a date near the winter solstice owed much to the missionary desire to facilitate conversion of members of older religions which traditionally held festivals at that time of the year." I believe the celebration of Christmas is based much more in mere religion than in the reality of a living relationship with the Lord. Christmas brings with it so much mixture and confusion within Christendom when God is after singleness and purity in His own.
As Sons of God, it isn’t so much that we SHOULD NOT celebrate Christmas, but that as we grow up into that place of maturity in the Lord, HE (the living Christ) becomes our single focus and goal. Those things which, for the most part feed the natural man, lose their appeal and eventually vanish away. Does that mean that we cannot enjoy these earthly things? That we should become legalistic scrooges? On the contrary! Like so many things, as we seek His kingdom first, all these things are added unto us and we can bring life and meaning to those around us no matter what day it is. It is HIS day! A day that He has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Just for different reasons).
Paul the Apostle said it best in his letter to the Colossians when he said; "Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but THE SUBSTANCE BELONGS TO CHRIST." (Colossians 2:16-17) And in Galations; "It was for freedom that Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage. For ye, brethren, were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants one to another." (Gal. 5:1 & 13 ASV)
The bottom line is this; when you have a revelation of the substance, the reality and you have come into an experiential knowledge (epinosis - greek) of Him in the eternal present, then all of it is seen and understood clearly for what it is - shadows. Christmas, both the commercialized version AND the religious version are nothing but shadows.
I personally don't believe it is the heart of the Father for His sons to celebrate the earthly birth of Jesus. However, it is also definitely not His heart for us to be judging (condemning) those who are still walking in the shadows. We are FREE to walk in, and delight in, HIM who is our present reality. If and as we do that, living in and by the Spirit, we will so manifest the risen, abiding Christ that all who have eyes to see Him and have the desire, the faith and the courage to leave the valley of shadows, will also be set free into the same glorious liberty that we enjoy! I don't know about you, but every year more and more I am thoroughly enjoying freedom from the "Christmas Spirit".
Praise God! He has given us the freedom to enjoy friends, family, healthy food, fun, celebrations, etc. Let us not allow these temporal activities and traditions, which are shadows of the reality, become idols in our hearts and we become bound to them once again. "In Him we live and move and have our being" and He is our completeness. He is high above all these things, controlling and encompassing them all; using them for His ultimate glory and our ultimate good. We rest in Him! We celebrate Him! Let’s celebrate Him together! On Christmas day and on every day!